WATCH | Merc's part taxi, part delivery van

Flexible pods running about cities picking up passengers or delivering goods is Merc’s future solution to transportation needs

10 January 2019 - 15:41 By Phuti Mpyane
Merc’s taxi/van of the future is self-driving and electrified.And it looks like a prop from a Star Wars flick. Picture: SUPPLIED
Merc’s taxi/van of the future is self-driving and electrified.And it looks like a prop from a Star Wars flick. Picture: SUPPLIED

The automotive march towards zero emissions coupled to autonomous cars will impact a lot more product and segments than personal transportation. Mercedes-Benz Vans has presented its Vision URBANETIC concept van at CES which it says opens up new perspectives on autonomous driving.

The idea is based on a fleet of flexible, self-driven and battery-powered chassis roaming around cities. These interchangeable structures can either be in people-mover form for a total of twelve passengers, or be converted for goods transportation. These would operate as part of a network ecosystem that utilises digitally transmitted commands, cameras, apps and sensors to be aware of surroundings and to safely and efficiently access various pre-planned destinations.

An app will be used for securing a spot inside as well as directing you to where you catch a ride. Picture: SUPPLIED
An app will be used for securing a spot inside as well as directing you to where you catch a ride. Picture: SUPPLIED

In people-mover mode, would-be passengers can book a trip via an app which not only shows where the user can board but directs them. Users then receive a two-digit vehicle number, the colour of the display and a self-chosen avatar. When the Vision URBANETIC approaches the meeting point, the number and the avatar are shown on the side display in the selected colour. More passenger authentication can be made via an app, fingerprint or facial recognition.

Once inside the pod, passengers are kept entertained by 360-degree halo displays installed in the ceiling for myriad journey information such as tourist hotspots or the day’s news. 

In cargo carrier mode the Vision URBANETIC is imagined as a flexible last-mile delivery solution which customers can pick up their goods directly from at an individually agreed collection point and time. An optimised route planning and goods management system will make this as painless and effective as possible.

The Vision URBANETIC from Mercedes-Benz Vans is a visionary mobility concept for urban areas.

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